Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wait, how'd I get here?!

Four weeks ago I had a going-way party, full of innocent fun, grilled hamburgers, Travis dancing in a wheelchair, loads of PBR and one balloon unicorn. A going-away party would imply some sort of going-away, which is indeed what happened, as three days later, I found myself cozily crashing on Casey's couch in Seattle (or, for poetic reasons, I should spell with a soft "c" as in Ceattle, to make for one hell of an alliteration.)

Literary devices aside, I left Asheville early one Monday in late September with a loaded-down pick-up, full of four bikes, and extra I-9 wheelset, and a bunch of useless crap that I somehow thought would be useful in my new life (and yet, I left behind my Cuisinart, which in retrospect was a terrible decision.)

Quigley had once told me about some MTB trails in Kansas, so of course I made that my arbitrary first stop of the trip. Total freak (or hipster, I can't tell) style, I crawled out of my truck at 6:30 am Tuesday morning in some parking lot in Lawrence, KS, got on my fixed gear mountain bike, bought some coffee, and went to ride the River Trail. Fast, flowy, and in Kansas--I recommend it highly. Post-ride, I went in search for breakfast, whence I became acutely aware that I had driven too far west and north to be able find a Waffle House or Bojangles ever, ever, ever again. At a seeming loss, I went into a downtown joint called the "World Cafe" or something ridiculous, considering its location in Lawrence, KS...and ordered an egg-and-cheese arepa. An arepa, apparently, is a Central American biscuit made not with butter, flour and love, but with cornmeal. Actually, it was pretty delicious, but Southern Pride (besides being a popular brand of chewing tobacco) makes me reluctant to openly admit this.

Flowy fun in the backcountry of Kansas
Loading up, driving on, I made it Gillette, WY the next night, had breakfast the next morning in Sheridan, at the same place we got cup after cup of coffee during our 2007 Booyah Tour. It was sentimental.

My next goal was to go mountain biking in Montana, as I had never been to that state, and judging my the name of it, it would have decent mountains. Decent mountains it had, but my premeditated stop of choice (Butte, MT) had trails that were 6-12 (depending on which local you asked and chose to believe) inches of snow. I was too hyped up on Mike-n-Ikes, bad coffee, Copenhagen, and Saltenes to make any sort of decision so I wandered around town restlessly for awhile, talked to the owner of the curiously named Beaver Bikes, bought more coffee, and drove on.

Autumn in Montana.
In Spokane, WA, having just seen a beautiful sunset over Cour d'Alene lake in Idaho, I talked to ol' pal Casey Gish, made the decision to push it to his house in Seattle, watched some guy accidentally splash gasoline all over the station attendent, bought a can of cream-of-chowder soup, ate it cold and did not like that decision, turned up the music a little louder, and made it to Casey's around midnight. Somewhere along the way, I caught myself in a moment of introspection--there I was, I happened to notice, blasting Rage Against the Machine, washing down Mike-n-Ikes with Mountain Dew, and I thought to myself that I have never felt dirtier in my entire life. Then I remembered that this was a pretty regular experience when I was in middle school.

Casey at earlier, more hydrated times.
Booyah Tour, 2007

Safely at Casey's, sleeping on a couch, not the bed of my truck, allowed (probably strongly urged) to take a shower, we caught up on life, the universe, and Warren Wilson College gossip, and the next morning we drank hella-good Anericanos in some alley in the U-District. He went to class, I drove to Bellingham, site of my new life for the next year, or whatever.

An hour-and-half and phone call to my mother later, I parked my truck in the visitor center parking lot, got a map from some volunteering retiree, and did the one thing that makes me feel secure wherever I go--I got on my bike and began pedaling, aimlessly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Beginning of My Farewell Process.

Labor Day Weekend Play-by-Play:
  1. My mom flies down for the weekend from Sunny Cleveland, Ohio.
  2. I got to finish building my fixed mtb at ProBikes, when, suddenly, a dozen or so goofballs come in to help Sharma Michael build up his adult-sized big wheels. We drink beer and scavenge up old friction shifters, cranks, pedals, etc. Most are 8-spd, we test ride them, we are excited.
  3. Most of those same goof-balls relocate a few hours later for a house party at Juts. It's an awesome house party.
  4. I find myself on the front porch with some guy, and the conversation goes like this
Guy: "Used to be French Broad was the only beer served at LAAFF, but they've since
broadened the selection."
Me: "French Broadened, if you will."
Guy: "No, I mean, you can get other breweries' beers there now."
Me: "Oh." Refill cup. Walk back inside to the white-kid dance party.
5. Saturday. Recover from Jut's, go for a local 'cross loop. Love it. Take my mom on a field
trip to visit my friend Meredith at Maple Creek Farm, the southern-most maple syrup
production. We eat quiche and other delicious dishes.
6. I ride Bent Creek with Ryan Fisher, who is the jam, and the source of my using of the
phrase "the jam." Hadn't seen him in almost a year, we catch up, we say goodbye.
7. LAAFF! We race those bigwheels. The kids love it. The adults love it. We talk shit. Ol' pal
A.J. runs over my foot, I'm waiting for my toe-nail to fall off, but it hasn't happened yet.
Otto wins it all. We give our praises to Michael for being a genius. Here's some pictures:

Kyley Cross vs. Kylie Krauss. Keep it straight.

Otto vs. Adam. Hot damn. HottoAdamn. Or Something

Adam in the lead, right before Otto tears his soul out.

Small child in tires, smoking a stogey, apparently.
8. Shanna and Marshall host a post-LAAFF gathering, we bike around, keep Gabe from
partaking in a fist-fight, watch a music video from Major Lazer, it is amazing. We test the
boys' Ape-Indexes. Sean wins by, like, 6 inches.

Photo and special effects courtesy of Mac Hager

9. It turns into Monday, I say goodbye to my Mom, 'til next time. Do a low-key ride in Bent
Creek. A few of us gather to eat burritoes. Suddenly, it's back to a normal work-week.

Except that it's not. I found out sometime before Labor Day that I got a job in Bellingham, WA, which I promptly and confidently accepted, before realizing that accepting a job in Bellingham is a little different than accepting a job downtown. Longer commute for one. Anyway, looks like I'm, uh, two weeks. Paking up, heading out, it'll be good. I will sorely miss Asheville and the reason why Asheville is so amazing (i.e. the people, the bike riding, it being beer city usa #1, and it being generous enough to share that title with another city of somewhat lesser coolness and sunshine...) I've actually made up a little triad of happiness that is a graphical summary of my love for Asheville. It looks like this:

Skipped work on Wednesday to hike Linville with Ohio Rob. It was pretty, the Sassafras and Sumac are already turning red...subtle hints of fall. It rained on us twice, and stoped raining on us twice. We ate cheese and summer sausage and figs.

This past weekend, we celebrated Lexy's upgrading to Expert after winning times a million at BMX grandes. Slap him on the back, or on top of his full-face, next time you see him. Then rode Laurel-Pilot-Slate with Beth, and a round-about way up to Farlow, which was awesome...and there was huge group of good people on that ride. Four hours of riding later, we headed over to Beth's for a cook-out, which, again, is reiterating the fact that these people, these mountain, these Kosher hotdogs washed down with PBR are what I love about Asheville.

Shoot! I'm a sap-ass.

Two more weeks of living it up in the best (and oldest!! Booyah!) mountains in the world.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

General Emptiness

I've been making a tough time of it lately, in my own stupid head. Not enjoying things as much as my horoscope is telling me I will in the forthcoming weeks (or something), a little disappointed that its dark when my alarm goes off now, a little nervous about what I'm doing for a job in October, and realizing I'm still a little affected by that boy I love. Which is ridiculous, I realize, but I just kind of think he's pretty awesome in his own little way, and I kind of miss that. I've also been harshly introspective lately, and then Connor has to tell me to shut up after I already told myself that. I feel like I've been off on all fronts lately. I'm just trying to start some sort of dialogue (for myself, or you, too, if you happen to read this), and it comes across as an attack. And then, the other night, a group of us played Risk (you know, the game of world domination...) and the formation of secretive, conniving alliances and eventual back-stabbing irritated me to the point of sadness. I mean, it's only a board game, but it was like being in High School again.

I'm trying to figure out where I'm going with this, and all I can think about is something Lexy's mom said once, "All that matters is to drink beer and be nice to people."

I'm sure there are a few other things that matter, like little kids riding BMX bikes, good math education for middle schoolers, non-bleached paper products, and universal health care, but I think Mrs. Lewis says it pretty well with that quote.

Oh, and Lexy is racing at Grands this weekend. Wish him luck.

Anyway, as tends to happen anytime I find myself disillusioned and introspective, I've been riding the hell out of my bike(s). I built up a 'cross bike, with wheels and a frameset form Little e, and this is the best thing that ever happened to me (that's a parabole). Took the long way (3 1/2 hrs through the woods) from my work in Mills River over to Brevard the other day to catch up with Dan and Tina, and the pavement-gravel-singletrack-gravel-pavement palindrome that is possible (or at least more comfortable) on a 'cross bike is awesome, and opens up a whole wealth of new loops. Spent the rest of the week commuting on the townie, then rode Big Creek for the first time ever on Saturday, which is embarrasing to admit, but made for a good 4ish hour solo loop. Then Sunday, another 'cross ride incorporating the WWC trails and Montreat College's XC trails over to Pisgah Brewing for the Brew Crew's Summer Games.

And let me tell we've all suspected, Jut can throw a party, and throw it well. This was the best idea for (and carry-through of) a party ever: a good showing of Asheville bike people, $1 pints of Pisgah Pale, and recess games all afternoon (wiffle ball, kickball, sack races, shit talking.) The rain held, we only talked bikes about 1/8th of the time with eachother (we do have multi-faceted personalities!), and nobody really bothered to keep was awesome. I love that crowd, there are some true all-star people here in Asheville.

Keeping up with this trend of revisiting juvenile diversions, this Sunday is the Lexington Area Arts and Fun Festival and Sharma Michael is holding an adult-sized big-wheel race...I think 2-5 pm for qualifiers, and 5-6 for the actual game-face competition. I trust it's going to be amazing. You should come. Shave you legs and wear spandex, too. Get serious.

Anyway, fun times and friendships. Long solo comtemplative rides through Pisgah. People not liking what I write, me being surprised they even bother to read (much less comment!) about it. Making new friends, losing old friends, wondering why I'm not in grad school yet, wondering why I even bother half the time. Getting rejected from jobs, but having people tell me, "with all honesty, Kylie, you were one of the best candidates, and we really enjoyed interviewing you, but..." and hearing pretty much the same thing from the boy at the end of this last relationship. Funny how a relationship can so strongly affect your self-identity. (Oh, that really how you think of me?) It's scarry, having to re-evaluate yourself, force yourself to buck up and keep being you, especially when you don't really know where you're going with yourself. I don't know what I think about any of this. I'm trying to find the balance in all of it.

I guess I'll just drink beer and be nice to people. And ride on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

For Once and For All

My housemate Charlie was telling me about his recent experience at a bike shop in Boulder, CO... I suppose first I should introduce Charlie, at least in the context of his relationship with bicycles. He has one, which he uses to ride places sometimes, usually to bars or parties, but he likes waterfalls and books more than bikes...though I think he genuinely thinks bikes are neat, and I certainly did see his eyes light up as I went into detail about all I had just learned about wheelbuilding. In other words, I think Charlie has a very healthy, self-aware relationship with bicycles.

Anyway, he was telling me about going into a bike shop with a friend, to do something innocent, like pick up new brake cables or something, and, also in the shop was a father with his daughter, presumably an incoming freshman at CU-Boulder, looking to buy a bike as part of the girl's back-to-school shopping list. The father said, "What do you mean? The more gears the better, right?" And the girl, rolling her eyes in the way that only spoiled 18 year olds can do to their parents that are just so uncool, said, "No, dad! I want a bike with just the one gear! Just the one!"

Charlie told me this story because he thought it was odd, verging on hilarious, and I'm repeating it because I think it's fully on the side of hilarious. And also because, a couple Saturday nights ago, I was riding downtown, I blew a red light turning left, and someone, from their car yelled, "Fucking hipster!" I looked back, and realized it was my ol' buddy Ian. And I wondered, (and I still wonder, because I haven't seen him yet to ask), if he knew it was me and was yelling that to be ironic, or if he didn't know it was me, and was yelling that because he really hates hipsters. Or maybe, worst of all, he knew it was me, really thinks I'm a hipster and was yelling that to be mean. I was, afterall, riding a fixed gear with a chrome bag, cycling cap and pants that I'd cut to make into shorts (which, to my credit, happens every summer, anyway).

Oh, god. I disgust myself.

But then another day, another ride, I got passed by an older-ish man in a car, and he slowed down to yell out the window, "Fixed hub! You don't see too many of those these days!" And I thought, "oh, if you only knew, buddy...if you only knew." But I was charmed by what, I assumed, was a genuine and long-lived appreciation for the fixed gear bicycle.

And so I'm admitting, right here and now, that I absolutely love fixed gears, I love them for many reasons, many reasons that are my own, and one, because like the Chuck Klosterman article I wrote about in my last Blahg post--how the over-abundance of choice ultimately makes us depressed, so you might as well keep it simple, at least for commuting and running errands and going from here to there. Nothing gets fucked up on a fixed gear. Every once in awhile my chain gets a little stretched and I need a 15 mm to shove my wheel back a little further, and sometimes I add a little bit of air to my tires, but that's it. Plus, if you've ever gotten up to speed on a downhill, did a half-assed skid to slightly slow down and a half-assed look to the left so you could at least tell yourself you made an effort to make sure no cars were coming, and cornered faster than you thought you were going to, didn't clip a pedal, came out of it smooth and at almost as much speed as you went into it, and your legs are going so fast, and the winds blowing against your cycling-caped head bedecked with the biggest smile you've ever smiled, and you have no where to go that evening except for some place you decided you had to go to just to give yourself an excuse to ride into town, and that's love. And that's why I love my fixed gear.

And I worry for the younger generation. I worry that they like fixed gears because they're cool, but they couldn't even tell you why they're cool, they just remember reading it somewhere, or they saw someone else with it, and that made it cool. They've never truely felt it. They're not in love. They just want to like it, but they're not even sure why they're supposed to like it.

And then there's the problem that I call Dave Matthew's Band Syndrome, which is when you know something is really awesome, but you can never bring yourself to like it, because everyone else is obsessed with it, and that turns you off. I've got bike-rider friends who will never go anywhere near a fixed gear because of their association with hipsters. Singlespeeds galore, but not fixed. They don't want to be lumped in with those losers.

But if you love it, love it. If you hate it, hate it. But do it for you own sake, and your own sake alone. Don't do it because it's cool, and don't not do it because it's too cool.

Do it because you never want to stop pedaling. Then shut up about it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Learning Process

The other day, by which I really mean, like two months ago, I was in line at West End Bakery, and their tip-jar had a note on it that said, "Trix are for kids, but Tips are for Struggling Young Adults." Or something to that effect. Which made me think of the line in my header to this blahg, "young adult ridden angst" and it makes me think of the conversations I've been having lately with my young adult ridden friends, and a I'm starting to realize we all need tips. Not the monetary sort (which never really hurts, but tends to go towards beer rather than anything lastingly valuable), but the philosophical sort of tip, the advice, the direction, the reconfirmation that shit, I suppose we are actually doing OK.

Which may sound rather emo (to use an young adult ridden phrase), and may sound like a problem of decently-educated suburban youth, which frankly it is...but its apparent and its prevalent and as a young adult ridden young adult, I have no idea what the hell to do, or what the hell to tell my friends. The problem, as I see it, is that throughout school (and college if you so choose) you have a very clear idea of what the next step is. Starting in March or so, you start making plans for the summer...trips, a job that will make you enough money to last another school year, and then sometime in August, you look at the class schedule to figure out when you need to be back. And then you laugh, and drink coffee, and goof off, and stress about tests, then get a C then get pissed then get over it, then its Friday, then its Monday, and so on in this sort of repetitive, reassuring pattern...until you graduate with a Bachelors degree in something you don't really know much more about than you did four years ago, and you can't find a job, and no one's offering you funding for Graduate school, and even Americorps is freaking out with applicants. And so you say to yourself (and your friends when they ask, and maybe your parents if you're open and honest with them) "I really have no idea what the hell I'm doing with my life."

Which makes me wonder if anyone really ever does. It makes me wonder if that reflective introspection is good and necessary and should never go away. Part of me thinks this directionless wandering and constant drive for something more meaningful is good...but that's not to say its not frustrating. Which, leaving out the double negative, means it's pretty darn frustrating.

And so, whenever this conversations pops up amongst me and my fellow recent college graduated peers, I think of my conversation with my last hairdresser, "What do you do?" She asked. "Oh, I don't really know..." Then further on down the conversation she said, "You pick tomatoes and ride bikes, that's what you do." And that is what I do, in the most simplified nutshell of my life, and that's a good enough definition to help feel a little more settled. So I've repeated that in many a intimate bar or front porch conversations, and now I'm thinking of a certain amazing country song, and I'm thinking, of course, of bike riding.

The other night (by which, here, I really do mean, like, two nights ago) I was taught how to build wheels...and I built up my first wheel ever (write that down in my baby book, mom)...a fixed Surly hub, laced to some DT Swiss 4.2's. I love learning the process, the specific steps, the two hands full and a spoke with a nipple ready held between your teeth, the "this is how you do it, why? Just 'cause that's how you do it."

Having absolutely no artistic mind whatsoever (though, admittedly, I do rock at bubble letters and collages) I of course have to transfer whatever aesthetic sense that is trapped up in my human nature and apply it to bicycles. I don't like overt artistic-ness, which seems to be all the rage in hip urban centers, but I'm a sucker for the subtle examples of beautiful perfections. The scripted "Campagnolo" all lined up on chain rings, the ferrals and zip ties that strategically match some understated color on the frame, I was taught to do while building wheels, if you look through the valve stem hole, you can see the logo on the hub. Why? Functional? Of course not. It's just how you do it.

Someone, somewhere, in the flowchart of people teaching other people to work on bikes, decided that's how it should be done, so you learn it that way, and you pass that on to the next person who asks you how its done. And its arbitrary and you know it, but you'll still always follow it, just 'cause. And there's a certain reassurance in that.

Chuck Klosterman, who is amazing and you should go read some of his stuff right now, has an article about Johnny Carson's death, which really is more about the idea that the overabundance of choice ultimately makes up depressed. At first, you feel could pick anyone of these options, oh the wealth! But once you make a decision, you realize you have fewer people to relate to, because they all made individual decisions, too, and you'll always be wondering what would have happened if you picked something else, did you make the right choice? Oh dear. This is similar to another book I've heard about, but haven't read, so I can't vouche for it the way I will so confidently for Chuck Klosterman, called "What is the What" And essentially, from what I've made up in my head about this book, it's about the Dinka people of Sudan who's creation story is that God offered them either cattle or the what. They asked God what the what is, and He, being the sneaky bastard He tends to be in so many religions, said, "Cattle or the what, your decision." They chose the cattle, and the rest of the world got the what. So while they're all meeking out their livings as herders, there's a whole bunch of spoiled-ass middle-class kids sitting around asking themselves what the hell this all means.

We have too many choices. We don't know what the what is. We're confused. We're lost, We're alone. We have no answers. I have an empty crossword puzzle tattooed on my fore-arm to help get this point accross. We know jackshit, and we shouldn't pretend we do.

But we also shouldn't be intimidated by that. I know the logo's supposed to be seen through the valve-stem hole, I'll work with that. I'm riding my 'cross bike to Brevard after work today, I'll work with that. What am I doing for a job in October? Uh.....

Let's go ride bikes this weekend.

Monday, July 27, 2009


I just got back from an awesome solo trip to Colorado and I really want to write about it, but I tend to suck at this sort of writing. I can't think of how any of my experiences are relevant or pertinent enough to anything the reader (i.e. you) might be experiencing, and I really don't want to talk AT you. I want to talk with you. But that's not what the internet is for. I've also learned that people don't really ever read anything anymore. So I suppose I should just let the pictures do the talking.

Unfortunately, I don't have a camera

So, courtesy of Google Image Search, here is a photo journal of my summer trip out west:

The spontaneity got its start with my first night in Golden, which involved free beer at Ace-Hi because it was ladies' night, the meeting of a semi-local who took me riding right from town the next morning, and the purchasing of the largest, cheapest avacado I've ever seen. It was magical, and I never even meant to stop there. Here's a picture of the bar, as well as, what appears to be a very succesful greyhound named "Ace-Hi Rumble."

Then I drove a leisurely two hours to Granby, the site of the 2009 Mountain Bike Nationals. It was a party.

Next I went to visit my ol' bff Sarah, who is working as a climbing guide in Estes Park. I love Sarah very much, and I got to hang out with her little climbing co-guides, whom I now also love very much. Here's a picture of us having fun at an earlier date:

And here's another picture from Estes Park, of one of Sarah's climbing buddies on, I think a 5.10:

Anyway, I went on one bike ride outside of Estes that included (I dare say) some of the best trails I've ever riden. Not like a destination ride that everyone talks about or anything conventional like that, but rather...completely unmarked trails that no one ever talks about. But there were pedal scrapes on rocks and log pyramids, so apparently someone was out there riding. Such fun tight, technical singletrack that would pop you out at some great little vista then twist you back into pine forest, then up through Aspens, back up to a different vista, and back into pines. It was magical. I will forever hold that day's ride in my heart. Shit, I'm about to cry.

Next I departed Estes to go see what the hell the deal with Fort Collins is. I still don't really know, but I did have a good time there. Stopped on my way to ride something called the Devil's Backbone, which was over-used like Bent Creek style for a little bit, but eventually devolved (or evolved?) into really awesome, flowy, can't-see-anyone trails. I was in a Colorado Meadow. It was awesome. Then I turned around, goy in my truck, and drove the rest of the way to Fort Collins, even though I think I could have just mountain biked there on that trail. Stupid logistics.

Here's a picture:

And, apparently, a few other people also think this is a great trail, and you can buy a commenterative mug...if you'd like:

Well, like I was saying...Fort Collins is cool enough. You can ride from town, it's a college town so you have a good chance of meeting cuties (or "fresh young tenders" as one Asheville lady once put it), and you can stumble into New Belgium Brewery at any hour of the day (just because you have an hour to kill before leaving for Denver) and they'll give you four free samples of your choice of any of their beers, just for being you. I had a Tripple, another Belgium style thing, Adam's Ale (sort of pale, absolutely delicious), and a Dandelion ale. All I had to do for them in return was tell them what I would name my band, if I were in a band. I called it, "My Dog Dave" and drank four delicious beers. I thought this was the coolest thing ever, but then I realized I must not be the only one, since, according to Google Image Search, several other people have had (and thoroughly enjoyed) the exact same experience. But maybe with a different band name. Oh well. New Belgium is the People's Brewery.

While beering, I talked to some homeboy who recognized my Endless T-Shirt and told me about the "biking scene" in Fort Collins, I sent a post-card to Megs, because said homeboy talked to me about bike polo, went for a long walk to make sure those four half-pints wouldn't affect my driving capabilities, and got in the ol' truck to go see Little e in Denver.

Eric, or Little e, or Dr. Cutlip and I were going to go on a 4-5 hour ride, but my goal of riding so much that I wouldn't feel like riding at all when it came time to sit in a car for 24 hours came a little bit too early. I didn't have it in me at all. All heart, no legs. We rode for a little over 2 hours on some awesome trail outside of Evergreen, CO, saw a brown bear, switched out I got to ride a fixed Viscous 29er, and he got to ride a 26" geared Independent with a 3.5 inches of squish up front. I think the change was much harder for him. I'm going to address this issue in more depth in a later post...but for now, let me tell you what a fucking amazing rider Little e is. Little e is a fucking amazing rider. He never really bothers to take the smooth line, he just takes the straightest line, and even rigid and fixed, he makes it look smoother than riding a boardwalk on a cruiser. God is jealous of Little e, and so beyond himself that he was able to create something like that.

So I pussed out of a big ride, but we got to eat some Middle Eastern food, which is my favorite genre of food, and I had been (seemingly) living off fig newtons and beer, so this meal was all the more incredible. Then Lil' e took me on a ride through greater Denver...a 2+ hour, late night tour of the town on our fixed gears. It was awesome. I guess I hadn't been in a real city for awhile, 'cause I was dumbfounded and slack-jawed by all those skyscrapers. So cool! And just as magical as that ride outside of Estes. Just a different sort of magical.

With that, I got up early-ish the next morning, and retraced my westward drive eastward. Met up with Slowhio Robb at some McDonald's in southern Illinois for breakfast, as he was heading westward to go do the Colorado Trail Race (which begins Aug. 2, so keep him in your thoughts.) I made him sit at the Lego table with me, I think he was disgusted.

Then I got home, got out my townie, rode around Asheville, got a text from Alex that said, "West to East...what dreams came back with you?"

I told him, no new dreams, just the realization that I'm on my way to manifesting old (and current) ones.


Monday, July 13, 2009

$1850 just to impress your boyfriend!?!

While purusing Craigslist (like I do all day everyday) I saw this that caused a severe disappointment in my gender. Sigh. That was one of my best jokes, telling people I ride bikes to meet boys. Then I realized people actually do that. Meeting boys could definitely be a result of riding bikes, especially considering the ratio is "80 million to one" as a lonely male collegiate racer once pointed out, but it should not be the reason for riding bikes. That's silly.

Anyway, stepping of my high-horse of tom-boy-ism, now...

Went mountain biking with some Brevard boys (of course) this past Saturday and it was amazing. We rode some secret trails and they were the jam. Then we jumped in the lake and it was like summer. The next day I skipped a ladies-only ride (of course) and accidently wound up going tubing in the Smokies and it really felt like summer.

Speaking of which, remember Tom Petty's lyrics, "I feel summer creeping in and I'm tired of this town again"? Well, I realized I hadn't done anything too interesting in a really long time when I turned on the work truck the other day, and Alice in Chains came on, and I thought to myself that that was the most exciting thing to have happend in the past week.

That's all about to change though. I've got a ten day weekend coming up, and I'm heading westward for some moutain biking, soul-searching, and cowboy wrangling (of course.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A couple and half weeks ago was the Cowbell XC in the pristine college town of Davidson, NC. The marathon was the day before (Saturday) and I got a voicemail from Ohio Robb that said, "It's hot. I quit. I'm driving home. Start drinking water now." We showed up Sunday morning to stories of the hellish conditions of the day before: 103 degrees in the shade, people dropping out left and right, regional wars starting over what was left of the ice cubes. But the weather for us measley cross country racer was great. Maybe 80, slight breeze, over-cast to slightly sunny. Perfect. I mean, I was definitely thirsty each time I came around to the feed, but it was about as far from hell as eating baklava while listening to Neil Young would be. So I really don't have any good stories to tell. It was a really fun course, I got to hang out with the Niner crew one last time before they headed back westward, I learned that someone makes an eccentric bottom bracket that fits in convential BB shells and got excited about that.

Cool new Indy Fab kits!

Oh, and we stopped at Bojangles on the way home. I'd never been to Bojangles before. Actually, my only experience with Bojangles was a story from Phil Shaw that goes like this,
Phil: "...and some botatoes"
Woman behind counter: (erupts into laughter) "Botatoes! Hahahahahahaha. Yo, Denise, this
boy just said he wants some botatoes! Hahahahahahahahahaha"
Phil: (Stands there awkwardly, realizes he meant bo'rounds, and waits for the woman to
ring him up)
Anyway. I'm a changed woman. I never felt the need to venture beyond the Waffle House Egg and Cheese biscuit (99 cents!), but now there's no turning back.

So this was number 4 or something of the "Kenda Cup East" series I've been doing, and now I have a little bit that I can put my feet up and go ride the hell out of my bike just for the fun of it. I'm so very excited about this. So very excited, in fact, that I forced myself to wait even longer to have a free weekend for day-long Pisgah rides, and decided to go down to Athens this past weekend for The Buddy System Alleycat.

Phil and I raced as a team, in remembrance of our strong showing at the Holidaze Alleycat in Asheville back in December. Despite all out smack-talking on the way down, we failed to produce anything remarkable, although I guess we did win the Kiddie Bike time trial, which would make the SECCCCCCCCC, and Ryan Fisher, proud. And since my entire life revolves around making Ryan Fisher proud, I guess we did alright. My roomie Charlie came down with us, too, which was awesome. He needed to get out of the house and the factory. So we took him to a college bar with a rediculous name and rediculously priced (to our advantage) beverages, Max Canada. I still don't understant the culture down there, so I watch it with awe, starring at it slack-jawed until I catch myself about to drool, and I go back to talking about bikes with the boys, and about the boys with Megs. Heh-heh.

It's not what it looks like.
We're just doing body-shots.
It was mandatory, mom.

It's our country's Birthday this weekend, which is one of my personal favorite holidays. And I get a long-weekend, which means huge mountain bike ride on Friday, long road ride early Saturday, followed by sipping cold drinks, playing lawn games, watching fireworks, watching people act rediculous, and then going to bed at an unreasonable hour. And then another huge mountain bike ride on Sunday, hopefully a social one. Sunday church at the Fish Hatchery, anyone?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Races, Places, and Sad Faces

After eons of on-again, off-again, the boy and I as an institution are officially R.I.P, which means, obviously, that I've been listening to a lot of awful (i.e. amazing) country music these past few days. Favorites lately are anything by Taylor Swift (amazing or awful? I hear there's a certain Super Pro in town that thinks the former...not to spread any unfounded rumors or's just what I heard) and whatever that "under the lights of the neon moon" song is. Oh, and the ultimate depressed cowboy song: "put some whiskey in my whiskey." I'm still a dignified lady, however, so I just put my whiskey in some ginger ale. Or the other way around, depending. I did see BioWheels Dennis pour some kegged Yuengling into an empty PBR can after last weekend's Massanutten Hoo-Ha. I'm not sure where that fits in on the emotional spectrum, but either way, it rocks.

Speaking of the Hoo-Ha, I guess I have a bit of race-report catch-up to do. Because this could potentially be quite voluminous, I'll offer the abridge version for now:
  1. Ducktown -- Good race, I love that course. It was muddy and wet and awesome. I was pleased.
  2. Dirt, Sweat, and Gears -- I raced the "12 hr" with Robb, who is cool and fast despite being from Ohio. But you should read Dicky's rendition of the race, because that man is hilarious, and surprisingly accurate.
  3. Singlespeed USA -- Intimate two-day race scene at Hawkes Creek Farm, a slice of privately-owned paradise in northern GA. I met, and dare I say, mananged to befriend, some amazing people, including Scott Hodge of Addictive Cycles, who raced a fixed (and brakeless) steel IF, which reminds me of another country song: "I saw God today..."
  4. Bump and Grind -- This was supposed to be my first "A" race of the season, but I failed to pull off anything remarkable, even by my lowly standards. Everyone showed up for this one--I mean, the for-real Pros. The start was very, very fast. I don't remember the rest.
  5. Massanutten Hoo-Ha -- Stunningly beautiful location; long, flat, rocky ridges, flowy trails into endless rock gardens. And mega-props to the folks who built the trails- fine works of masonry to put it lightly. Another "ugh" sort of race for me, mainly because my heart got ripped out just a few days earlier, and those things are kind of important, it seems. I tried to be all angry and fast, but instead I was just sad and pokey.
With that out the way, I'd like to give a full race-report on the Mayhem Alleycat, which turned out quite nicely. After a brief run-in with some friendly police-men (apparently, selling t-shirts in public areas without a permit isn't cool by cops'-standards), a very fair and civilized conversation, and me ensuring the sheriff that, "next time, I'll learn the laws before I break them," they let us carry on with our bicycle race. I kind of want to go tell my story to the Asheville Copwatch Support Group next Tuesday, but I don't think I'd fit in. Anyway, some of the coolest people managed to become even cooler in my little mind by helping out at checkpoints and metal-working some amazing looking trophies/beer coozies: Robb at the Pumptrack, Caroline at the Slip-n-slide, Eric at the paper-boat race, Megs my BFF with me at the flip-hammer, and Alex slaving away in the metal shop producing those great trophies for the top three. I wish I had a picture...but you'll just have to visit Sunshine Cycles in Athens, GA to see the winners'. And while we all know in our hearts that, technically, everyone is a winner, the winners for reports' sake were:

First Place: Ben and Chris of Athens. How the hell did the out-of-townies win? And Chris was on a Polo-bike gear. I still don't get it.
Second Place: Gabe and shoot, I forget his name...I'm such an asshole. They won a tattoo from Galen at Freeks and Geeks.
Third Place: Phil Shaw

And honorable mentions to Christine for being the only one to get the "UNCA student's name, phone number and major" bonus and to Rob (the welder, not the Ohioan) for being the only one to go to the Jewish Cemetary checkpoint. It should be noted that at some as-of-yet-undecided date there will be a midnight crit at this same Cemetary, so stay posted...and in the meantime, you kids should learn where this is.

Anyway, I love community building events, I love bikes, and I love everyone being respectful and happy--this was the most ideal synthesis of these three ever. Thanks to everyone who raced and helped out, again and again.

So back to real life, I'm leaving my shattered little heart in a pile for the time being, I suppose until I get annoyed with it enough to clean it up. In the mean new job is the jam, I just made the best biscuits of my life (they fucking rock, not to toot my own horn or anything) its summer, which means there's enough time to run, work eight hours, mountain bike, drink a beer, water my plants, and still have enough daylight to read outside until it gets too dark and I can call it a day. So it's really not that bad. Moving on..."forward, never straight" as that guy who stole my heart once said...usually right before he left me in his dust blowing through a yellow light. Oh well.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Just letting you know...

There's going to be an alleycat bicycle race here in Asheville on Saturday, May 23rd.

Start is at 4pm at the Mellowdrome (at Carrier Park, you know the one.)

There will be t-shirts and prizes and beer and smiles and life-long memories.

It will be awesome. Tell all your friends.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Cheers" [clink]

I was checking up on Dan the Man's blahg the other day, and I saw that one, he changed his color scheme, and two, he had an article about confidence. Which is funny because this past race was my realization that my confidence as a racer has fallen to miserable depths. I'm in a slump.

With this new problem at hand, I went straight to the Bible (Joe Friel's not Gidgeon's) to look up what being in a slump means. But none of what he had to saw seemed pertinent to me. Overtrained? Not really, I don't think. Burned out? Surely not. My love for bikes has never waned. No, its a constant wax. Certainly, there are days when I'm like, "eh...really? Bike riding? Really?" And then I get on my bike and I'm like "Hell yeah, mother fucker!" In other words, my training is going pretty well. Day-to-day I feel great on the bike, and I'm enjoying my little training plan, doing my little hard workouts, and such, but when it comes to the weekend, I'm falling apart.

If you read my last Blahg, I'm obviously having some personal life issues, like boys and teeth rot, but I'm supposed to be a professional. Which means sucking it up and pretending. Or going hard regardless. But I think going into the season on a Singlespeed, getting blown off the back trying to maintain a 90rpm cadence while going nowhere and watching the other girls big ring their way away from me and I start to feel sorry for myself wasn't much of a help in terms of starting the season off on the right foot.

And then at my past race, the Knobscorcher, I broke a chainring, and dropped out because of a mechanical, which is something I've never done before. I guess that was just a matter of time, as mechanicals seem to happen left and right to some people, but I still didn't really appreciate it. I also noticed my head wasn't in it at all, even from the start. I think my bad mental state caused my chainring to break in half. Bad mental stated can ruin anything, especially old chainrings with ovalized bolt holes. Whoops. Should have replaced that.

Then this past race was the SERC in Winder, GA, which I don't even really want to talk about. Some girl came up behind me at some point during the first lap and said, "Kylie! Get your stuff together!" And I realized then and there that I absolutely did not have my stuff together at all for this one. I failed. It was my day of ultimate defeat, my low point on all fronts, from which point, I have decided, I am moving swiftly and deftly up. I'm putting all my little proverbial ducklings back in a row and "getting my stuff back together" and all that jazz.

The boy and I worked it out, defined it for the better, and I think we're both excited. First time in awhile that we're on the same page, which is a big relief, and I'm thinking we can make this happen. So with that settled, and it being rediculously warm out the past few days, and having seem my lady friends while watching folks go real fast in circles at the Twilight Crit, and giving myself a long lecture and pep talk, I'm putting the game face back on.

Alex and I sat outside Jack of Wood for awhile last night talking about everything, then I spilled my guts to him about my race season so far, and how disappointed in myself I am, and he was a big help in the snapping out of it. With his words of wisdom in my head, I headed to the Alma Mater today to go do sprints in Dam Pasture. I could ride the Wilson trails blind folded by this point, but going back to ride them every once in awhile is such a good motivator. Those trails were my stomping grounds during my early developmental years of bike racing, going back and riding them feels like mom making a milkshake when you go home. Which doesn't happen to me, but it might happen to some of you, and so you can relate to that feeling.

Anyway, it's all spring and green out there, and there are baby cows running amok, and I felt really good on my workout and I'm still getting a bit more used to my new bike and things are looking up. I've got another SERC race this weekend (Ducktown) then a couple fun ones (DSG 12 Hr and SSUSA) and then I'm throwing an underground race of my own. I'll let you know the details once I have that figure out.

So's to the feeling of summer. To riding the ol' townie all crickety downtown, watching the sunset with the boy, knowing things are only going up from here. Here's to going fast through the woods. What a fucking good feeling. And knowing I've got a lot to learn, a lot to improve upon, and being excited about all of this.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Parts and Pieces

Haven't not written in over a month, I feel like a brief outline of the past few weeks is necessary.

I'm down one boyfriend and one tooth, but for what I've lost in relationships and dental health, I have made up for in bicycles. That's Independent has arrived, and after four hours of building it up (embarrassing, I know...I'm still an amateur mechanic) I have an awesome new titanium micro-bike ( should see the headtube. Tiny!)

Independents, as we all know, are made of recycled robots, and man-oh-man, does it ride nicely. I haven't gotten my protractor out yet, but I think the head angle might be a little slacker, which is probably good for me, considering my downhilling is about as emabarrasing as my mechanical skills. Industry Nine hooked me up with a wheelset, Kevin from Suspension Experts hooked me up with a fork (a Reba, stickered up like a Sid for reasons that are beyond me) and IF got me a bunch of gears and other necessary components. Having not had gears since October or something like that, it's still kind of a neat little novelty. I can sit and pedal over so much stuff again. It's pretty fun. Meanwhile, my singlespeed is in pieces, and I miss it already.

Speaking of in heart is destroyed, again. Boys, ouch. Dang. Emphatic sigh.

Also in pieces was one of my molars, which had to be cut in half before it could be pulled out of my jaw, which was performed all for $20 at the community dental clinic. What a deal!

Funny how pain in my heart makes me want to do nothing but go for long bike rides in the woods, but pain in my mouth makes me want to do nothing but think about the pain in my mouth. I'm spending this morning doing neither and instead trying to find a job. Well, I was trying to find a job until I started writing on this Blahg. Then I might go eat an avacado and go for a road ride. Emphatic sigh.

This weekend is a SERC race in Athens, which will be my first geared race of the season. It's going to be confusing, I can guarentee that. It's also the weekend of the Twilight Crit down there, which has morphed into a Ladies Weekend with a handful of my friends going down there to visit our friend Megs, and spend the weekend cutting up, kvetching, and whatever else it is gaggle of girls do together. I'm excited and I need it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Community Building Events

This past week three major bicycling events and resulting lessons occurred.

1) The last (of three) Snake Creek Gap race. I put on an easier gear (thanks to an 18t cog hook-up from Shanna, who now owns Endless and is on the path toward general awesomeness), bigger tires (2.2's) and ran lower pressue. This, plus rediculously nice weather, helped me take a good amount of time of my, uh, time. I never really look at results, so I don't know how much better I did, but the point anyway is that I learned that just because I ride a crappy set-up during the week, doesn't mean I shouldn't put forth the effort to put together an appropriate set-up for racing. See, I'm trying to be more professional this year. And I think that mainly means less retarded.

2) Alex's birthday party! Which was a Whiskey Crit, and post-crit havoc. The Crit went great, with such stand-by racers as Jut-Rut, Winston, Marshall, Brucey, Beth, Philly Cheese Steak, Thomas, and, of course, the Birthday Boy. I gave them the option of taking a shot of whiskey each lap or chugging a solo cup full of Kool-Aid. I accidentally told them that I made the latter with hose water, which I think detered some folks. I mean, everyone. They all went for the whiskey. But despite the relatively high alcohol consumption and the slick roads (due to a light, yet persistant, Northwest-esque rain), nobody got hurt and everyone had fun. Until a couple hours later, of course, when everyone thought it'd be a good idea to go for another, more casual ride. And of course, casual rides at this point during a party means everyone is going to sprint like hell and act rediculous. Which, of course, everyone did. Marshall busted his teeth and Alex broke his collar bone. But both boys are fine, I think, more "haha, that was dumb" that "waaah!" which is good. From this event I learned that boys are uncontrollable and so be it and I also learned that there is an "e" in whiskey. I think I always thought it was "whisky". But the bottle told me otherwise.

3)Asheville on Bikes had their little St. Patrick's Day group ride, where they showed off future greenways, and the result of all their hard-work advocacy. They also showed us a good time at a couple keystone bars in Ashevill. AOB is run my two people, I think, named Mike and Rachel, and these two people are great and I really like what they do. I told Mike this very thing, that is, that I like what he does, and he said, "Well, I like what you do, too." And I told him, "I don't really do very much." And Mike said, "Yeah, but you're intolerant." I don't really know what caused him to say this. It may have been because I took off in the middle of the ride to go do my own ride because I couldn't stand the group-lingering that much. I had spent all morning in the ER which Broken-Bone-Birthday-Boy, and couldn't handle not riding all over the place all afternoon. So that's what I did until I came back to rejoin the group and get called intolerant. I kind of liked it, though. From this event, I relearned that Asheville on Bikes is going great things and everyone should support Bike Advocacy and I also learned that as I say this, I hate the idea of being part of an advocating group, and I'd rather just tell other people to go support them, while I just ride pointlessly around town.

That's all for now. Enough lessons for one week. I kind of need the rain to stop so I can't plant my little beets and carrots and stuff and go for a clean mountain bike ride and have dry socks for the first time in a week. But whatever. It's good for holing up in the library and blahging, and for kicking it at home with my dear invalid.

Keep riding. Keep yelling at cars.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ah, so.

Three races into the season so far: two Snake Creek Gaps and one Icycle. The latter should be pronounced just like the word icicle and not to be made to sound like I-Cycle. The word Bicycle rhymes more with icicle than I-Cycle anyway. Only people who don't ride bikes say "bi-cycle." Like today, when I went to the YWCA to become a member (hey, now...) the woman was like, "Oh, you rode your bi-cycle here. That's great." And I was like, "Heh-heh, yeah. Bi-cycles." And then I went to work out with old people.

Anway. It's icicle. Or Icycle. No need to pronounce differently just because they spelled it with a "y" instead of an "i." But maybe I should check with Wes Dickson before I publish this. But never one to do what I should, I won't.

I got 2nd to Jamie. Like always and forever. Ah well. She's currently winning the Snake Creek series by like a million minutes. I think I'm in third now. And supposedly Willow's coming to SNC #3, which means I need to step up my game like woah.

Not really wanting to make excuses, but since everyone else does, I will too....I've been racing my singlespeed, which is all I have now since I gave my parts to the Mister and while I'm waiting on my Robot Bike from Independent. I'm super stoked. They recycle Robots into Bikes, is how its done, I think. They're a great company, and I'm really excited to be riding for them this season.

Speaking of which, a couple boys from IF came and played these past few days, and that was pretty cool. We did neat things like riding bikes, playing cribbage, and making home fries. Harlen is officially #1 on the Cool List, which he managed by his ability to portray his unabashed awesomeness in the most over-top and understated way possible. What did that sentence mean? I have no idea...but basically, Harlen rocks my face off, and I'm very humbled, honored, etc. to be racing with and for him. We made sense of my annual training plan this weekend and created an awesome race schedule, and he inundated me with invaluable advice, which I will take to heart, and try to follow. My goals are learning how to J-Hop all pretty over big ol' logs (like, over 8 inches, heh-heh, uh...) and learning how to rest. The latter is going to suck.

Otherwise, besides bike riding and not working, I'm working on ordering seeds for our little garden plot, working on trying to find work, exciting about getting to work this Friday splitting wood for Sarah's grandparents, and I've joined the Greenman Brewery's women's soccer team. Honestly, I'm a little nervous, having not played outdoor team soccer since high school. Oh well. I lost my dignity long ago, I have no one else to fool.

Asheville on Bikes canceled their little ride around town today because of the rain, which I think is missing the point, and I had a conversation with the folks at Riverlink about bikes as reliable transportation, and how disconcerting it is that bikes don't usually count as reliable to most people. Fools. Anyway, in the spirit of my inability to rest, I'm carrying on with my individual Critical Mass ride, which could be called a Lack-of-Critical-Mass-and-the-Point-Entirely-Missed Ride, which is just me zipping around town on my townie, trying to simultaneously find inspiration and inspire. Usually I just wind up at the library to check my back account and write on this Blahg. But someday...
Don't get the message? Ah well.

Friday, January 16, 2009


That is: AMANAPLANACANALPANAMA. It's a palindrome, and one hell of a one at that. Kind of like RACECAR, only much cooler.

Anyway, I have a plan now. Sort of. That is, a training plan. Harlen is letting me in on his little secrets of advice, which is awesome, because I've got determination and dedication, but I tend to lack direction. So instead of riding myself into the ground all the time this season, I'm going to ride myself into the ground scientifically. I'm excited. And he's not really making me take rest days, just a couple days of easy spinning around town. Alex said to just ride around with a cup of coffee, so that you can't really get out of the saddle or sprint or anything, 'cause then you'd spill your coffee. That's a pretty good version of a PowerTap, I think.

A couple weeks ago was Race #1 of the 2009 season, which I tend to still write as 2008, which I think is a widespread problem. I think people generally get the hang of it around mid-February. But in the mean time, it's Jan. 16, 2008. Fuck. 2009. Right.

Snake Creek Gap, part one of a three part series. It was awesome. Held somewhere around Dalton, GA, the course was super, with lots of singletrack, and good climbs, and fun traversey sections, and a good crowd of people. I raced my singlespeed, because that's all I have right now, and despite what everyone said, a 32-17 turned out to be ok. I think it'll be even better for Part 2 and Part 3, you know...when I'm a little more in shape and such. Fatty McButterPants here, all winter-styled out. I think I got 2nd to Carrie Lowery, if that's how you spell her name, who is one of those awesome, badass, professional women that I look up to. So that's ok. The weather was in the 50's and it was all misty, so that was even better than ok, it being January and all.

I rode most of the 34 miles with Doug [I never know if it's appropriate to use peoples' last names without their permission, so I'll leave this one out. If you know him, you know him...] who is one of those awesome, badass, not professional at all men that I look up to. He usually has a wad of chew in his mouth and a bottle of wine in his hand directly following the race. He's cool. Also, all the Yazoo guys were there, and the NC version of Yazoo, the newly formed Pisgah Brew Crew, so it was pretty much a good party scene as well. Good race, good post-race...I'm already rediculously excited for the next one.

Last week there was a classic group ride out of the Fish Hatchery. I hadn't been on a group ride with kids my own age for over a month, so I was hurting for one. And this group was 75% Floridians, which means it was awesome. Dan Guiness Ennis and Chris Janaeskiwekiskzie97838kdisk and that guy who rides La Ruta six times a year, and Alexis and Nate Dog (not Dawg) and Thomas and such, and it was great. Followed by El Chapalas, and the wondering why it's El and no La Chapalas, and it turned out to be a great day. Oh group rides. So good for the soul.

Not good for the soul is temperatures below 25, which is what it is today, and what it was yesterday. Yesterday I rode Bent Creek and whined, today I townied all over the place with, like, 4 sweatshirts on, and it was fun. Tomorrow, I'm going to make people go ride Laurel with me. I'm going to go fast up it, and try to clear Pilot. Which won't happen.

In the meantime, I'm trying so hard to find a stupid job. Which is really, really hard, and really hurts the ol' ego being rejected all the time, and I really do dislike not working. I'll keep trying, and keep hoping that Obama creates some sort of neo-CCC thingy, and employs a bunch of healthy youngsters like myself to do pointless things like move big rocks from here to there. That would be sweet.

Otherwise, just waiting for spring. Three more weeks til our Homebrew is ready to drink (a Nut Brown, yum...) and a couple more weeks and we'll start some plants indoors, and then there's 12 hours of Santos mid-February, which will be like a Pseudo-Spring, and then it'll be almsot Spring here, and Landscaping places will be hiring, and daylight will last forever, and so will smiles.


A man a plan a canal. Panama.